ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry suggested on Monday that the local government elections could be helpful in checking the menace of extremism in society because it provided people-to-people contact at the grassroots level.
“One of the reasons behind growing extremism and dacoities in the neighbourhoods is that we have lost interaction with the people at the ward and union level,” the chief justice observed, adding that the country’s founding fathers had deliberately incorporated constitutional provisions for holding local bodies’ elections.
The observation was made when a three-judge bench took up a petition filed in 2009 by Rab Nawaz from Quetta.
The petitioner has sought justification from the authorities for violating the Constitution by not holding local government elections in cantonment areas for the past 14 years.
“When you talk of democracy then you have to hold the local government elections even in the cantonment areas,” the chief justice observed and noted with concern that the last such elections were held in Oct 1998.
Deputy Attorney General Dil Mohammad Alizai, representing the federal government, informed the court that the defence ministry would soon submit a summary for approval of the prime minister to hold local government elections in cantonment areas.
He conceded that the affairs of cantonment boards were being run by nominated administrators.
He told the court that the government was ready to hold local bodies elections the moment the Election Commission of Pakistan announced the election date.
The Director Legal, Ministry of Defence, Commander Shahbaz, told the court that the summary would positively be moved on Monday from his department for the approval of the prime minister.
The chief justice observed that the prime minister was a very efficient functionary and recalled that the local bodies’ polls were always held during military regimes, though no such elections were held in the cantonment boards.
Pointing towards the defence ministry’s representative, the chief justice observed that provisions of the Constitution could not be denied and that they should be supportive in strengthening democratic institutions.
Local governments are an effective institution because local representatives are always close and within reach of the common people. They also help settle issues at the grassroots level, reducing despondency among the masses.
The court, however, adjourned the hearing till Dec 17 on the request of the defence ministry and the deputy attorney general so that they could seek instructions from the government.
SINDH LB ORDINANCE: The same bench put off proceedings in a petition against the Sindh Local Government Act, 2012, till Dec 17.
Through his petition, Barrister Zamir Hussain Ghumro of the Sindh Bachayo Committee has challenged the controversial law, which was adopted by the Sindh Assembly two months ago.
The petitioner pleaded before the court to declare the Act as illegal, unconstitutional and unlawful since dozens of its sections, wholly or partially, were in clear conflict with Articles 2, 5, 9, 25, 97, 129, 130, 137, 142 and 175 of the Constitution.
Mr Ghumro has requested the court to declare that towns could not be created outside the boundaries of revenue divisions, no new police districts could be created on the basis of towns in metropolitan corporations and provincial subjects and executive authority of other departments under Schedule-1 could not be transferred to the department of local government or any local body.